Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 28, pp 28546–28561 | Cite as

First evaluation of floating microplastics in the Northwestern Adriatic Sea

  • Alvise Vianello
  • Luisa Da Ros
  • Alfredo Boldrin
  • Tihana Marceta
  • Vanessa MoschinoEmail author
Research Article


Plastic pollution in the marine environment is becoming a problem of global concern, and the Mediterranean is believed to be one of the worst affected regional seas. The present study presents data on floating microplastics in the Northwestern Adriatic Sea in order to evaluate the possible contribution of two significant potential sources: the lagoon of Venice and the Po River. Samples were collected in March and April 2014 along two transects located off Pellestrina Island (Venice) and the Po Delta, each consisting of four sampling stations at 0.5, 3, 10, and 20 km from the shoreline. Microplastics were quantified and classified according to their colors and shapes and analyzed by micro-attenuated total reflection-FT-IR. Microplastics were found in all samples, albeit with high spatial and temporal variability. The highest concentrations were observed in March at the offshore station of the Pellestrina transect (10.4 particles m−2) and the two landward stations off the Po Delta (2.1 and 4.3 particles m−2), highlighting the influence of various factors, such as surface circulation and river discharges, in determining specific accumulation patterns. The most common polymers were polyethylene and polypropylene, and most of the particles were secondary microplastics (83.5%). The patchy distribution of microplastics observed in the study area is driven by hydrodynamic and meteorological factors acting on short time scales.


Floating microplastics Coastal pollution μATR-FT-IR analysis Northwestern Adriatic Sea 



Landsat 8 data are courtesy of the US Geological Survey and the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center. Data reprocessing is courtesy of Federica Braga (CNR-ISMAR). We also wish to thank Dr. Mauro Bastianini for providing oceanographic and meteorological data from the “Acqua Alta” oceanographic platform.

Funding information

This research was carried out with funding from the Ministry for the Environment, Land, and Sea, under the memoranda of understanding signed in December 2012 between the Ministry and the Italian coastal regions for the implementation of the national Marine Strategy (d. lgs. 190/2010).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alvise Vianello
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luisa Da Ros
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alfredo Boldrin
    • 3
  • Tihana Marceta
    • 4
  • Vanessa Moschino
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes (IDPA), CNRVeneziaItaly
  2. 2.Civil Engineering Department, Section of Water and EnvironmentAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark
  3. 3.Institute of Marine Sciences (ISMAR), CNRVeneziaItaly
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly

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